The next morning the elves arrived, late as usual. We regaled them with more tales of our heroics the night before, and then departed on Cult Air back to Red Larch. At Red Larch, Thorg toddled off to see if his new armour was finished, while the three elfesses drifted off to go and receive the accolades of the Emerald Enclave and Order of the Gauntlet. I stayed in the bar of the Swinging Sword with Blinky, quaffing (and by Helm that owl can drink) and flirting with the barmaid. The last laugh was on me though, as the three witches sashayed in thirty minutes later having received effusive but inedible thanks and a scroll with some spells on it that none of them could use (I’m guessing that no one in the Enclave or Order could use them either which is why it got palmed off on Huey, Dewey and Louie). I had a quick look at it and instantly saw that it contained two castings of the Knock incantation, which isn’t one that I have in my spellbook yet, so offered to swap it for Reszur, the dagger of silence that we found in the catacombs under Red Larch a couple of weeks ago. Arielle accepted on their behalf and pocketed the knife – I reckon I could probably have got it for less, but, hey, I’m feeling generous at the moment. Soon after, a loud clanking noise heralded the appearance of Thorg. He certainly looks better protected now, just not very quiet.
After a hard evening bringing the locals up to date with all our latest heroics, we rose relatively early and departed, initially for Womford where we picked up Therel and Theodorm. The plan was that we would land some distance from the Sacred Stone Monastery and leave the hippogriffs hidden somewhere (maybe in a copse or cave) under their care. We flew back to the Sumber Hills and put the first part of the plan, landing, into place.
The Sacred Stone Monastery turned out to be at the end of a long narrow defile in the hills, which opened into a natural amphitheatre ringed with cliffs. The monastery stood in the centre, squat and ancient. We circled round in the shadows at the base of the cliffs. There was a garden at the rear, and one wing, next to it, looked dilapidated. We decided that this was an obvious point of entry into the complex, as we would be less likely to be heard if it was deserted. We snuck up to the garden gate and looked through the bars – the garden beyond looked overgown, and contained seven very lifelike statues, some caught in positions of fear and terror. It seemed an unlikely subject for fine art, and a cult dedicated to stone seemed like the sort of people who might keep a basilisk for fun, so we decided not to investigate further.
Fortunately for us, there was another door to the east wing, on the far (southern) side from the garden. It was not overlooked, so we were able to creep up to it unobserved as far as we were aware. The door was locked, but I rapidly opened it. The corridor beyond was dusty and unused, turning to the left thirty feet ahead. A door to our immediate left revealed the sound of chanting when we listened at it, so we ignored it. A door on the far wall of the corridor where it turned proved to be locked or barred, and with no keyhole on this side, so we ignored it. Beyond the corner, the corridor entered an open area where four corridors joined. Another door on our left also revealed the sound of chanting, so was also ignored. A door to our right was unlocked, and opened carefully, to reveal a large room with several stills being warmed by large fires. Two cultists were tending the fires, and did not see us open the door, so we closed it quietly and moved on. The next door we chose was locked, and we were unable to open it. The one next to it showed some stairs descending, which we took. A landing ten feet down had some water buckets on it. The stairs turned back on themselves and continued down, ending in a door. We listened and heard some guttural grunting, but opened it anyway.
The room beyond contained a well, presumably the water supply for the monastery. Several other doors opened into it, and in the centre, around the well, stood three orogs and an ogre. One of the orogs asked for the pass sign. None of us knew it, so Thorg, never one for complex negotiations, just charged in. They proved to be tough and doughty opponents, and we were definitely rusty in the fighting department after several nights on the town, but Thorg was mighty with his (well, Thurl’s) greatsword, dispatching the ogre with a flurry of mighty blows, and I was dealing firebolts left, right and centre. Before long, we stood victorious, if slightly bloody, on the field of battle — this is as much of this rubbish as I can take. Blinky here, just to provide some objectivity in this account. I have been summoned from the feywild by some pretty sad specimens in the past, but this lot take the biscuit. Erky fired off about six firebolts and hit once I think. I’ve met cuttlefish with more magical aptitude than he has. And Thorg was lucky not to take Sorrel’s head off, some of his swings were so wild. And the elves weren’t much better. I’ve seen pixies that were more effective in combat. Feyabelle might as well have been firing her arrows backwards for all the effect some of them had. That said, when they did hit, they were pretty nasty. And why is Sorrel fighting with a cricket stump? Surely a battleaxe would fit the barbarian stereotype much better? A truely sad, sad displa… — right, that’s got that feather duster of an owl back in her cage. As I was saying, I was truly heroic in the fight, and before long they all lay dead at our feet. A rest is called for though, to lick our wounds, once we have checked what lies behind the doors.